Science News

Curated by RSF Research Staff

Supercapacitor Material from Leaves Outperforms Graphene

In Shandong China, investigators recently discovered a way to convert fallen leaves from deciduous phoenix trees into a porous carbon material with the potential for use in high-tech electronics. The American Institute of Physics published their results in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, as these leaves are often simply burned in the winter, creating significant air pollution.

As a more true embodiment of the phoenix, the new process results in supercapacitor carbon microspheres, birthing a new and valuable use for these autumn leaves. Dried leaves are first ground into a powder, then for 12 hours they are heated to 220 degrees Celsius, producing a powder of tiny carbon microspheres. After treatment with a solution of potassium hydroxide, and further heating in jumps from 450 to 800C, the surface of the microspheres is corroded, increasing the surface area and making them extremely porous.

The high surface area allows for unusual electromagnetic properties, and after multiple rounds of testing, this material was found to be a supercapacitor, reaching capacitances of 367 Farads/gram. Even recent graphene supercapacitors have only reached 1/3 of that value.

Since capacitors (and supercapacitors) are widely used in electronics to store charge in two conductors separated by an insulator, they are used for rechargeable batteries, temporary memory storage, and much more. There is huge promise for new supercapacitor materials in computing and electric vehicles or hybrids.

From a Unified Physics perspective, carbon nanospheres are found to have a similar geometric structure to the arrangement of Planck Spherical Units in geodesic curvature, such as inside a Proton. Similarly, graphene also has a structure similar to the arrangement of PSU in equilibrium. Deterioration of the surface of carbon microspheres by potassium hydroxide may make carbon nanotubes within the nanospheres that allow electromagnetic charge to enter and exit the surface of the microsphere, increasing its capacitance. Further modeling of the carbon nanospheres must be completed to know for sure.

Original Article in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy:
http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4997019

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Adam Apollo
Resonance Academy Faculty

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